With renovation complete, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity witnessed the blessing and dedication of St. Rita Chapel, tabernacle, ambry and San Damiano Crucifix the first Sunday of the 2008 Lenten Season.
This quiet, small chapel found in the section of the Motherhouse home to the sick and infirmed members of the community was chosen to provide an environment, in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, to reflect on the San Damiano Crucifix so dear to both St. Francis and St. Clare. Sister Mariella Erdmann, art professor and artist in residence at Silver Lake College, wrote this particular icon, a visual text recounting the Passion of Jesus according to St. John’s Gospel which historically summoned forth St. Francis’ conversion and commissioned him to “rebuild God’s Church”. St. Clare, too, daily gazed on the original crucifix in the small chapel of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy where she resided from 1212 until her death in 1253. It was later moved for greater protection to the new monastery of St. Clare within the city walls. Sister Mariella personalized the events viewed in her depiction of the image by including foundresses of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in its base.
Richard Hartman, who serves in the Motherhouse Maintenance Department, crafted the tabernacle, ambry, pedestals and prie-dieux out of lumber harvested from the woods on the Franciscan Sisters’ property. The symbol on the front of the tabernacle was also designed by Sister Mariella. ‘My God and My All’ are words attributed to St. Francis. The ambry-repository will hold the Oil of the Infirm after the new oils are blessed at the Green Bay Diocesan Chrism Mass on March 18, 2008.
Pause and consider this memorable moment:
…A few days had passed when, while he (Francis) was walking by the church of San Damiano, he was told in the Spirit to go inside for a prayer. Once he entered, he began to pray intensely before an image of the Crucified, which spoke to him in a tender and kind voice: “Francis, don’t you see that my house is being destroyed? Go, then, and rebuild it for me.” Stunned and trembling, he said: “I will do so gladly, Lord.”…he was filled with such joy and became so radiant with light over that message, that he knew in his soul that it was truly Christ crucified who spoke to him.
Legend of the Three Companions Chapter V, 13